Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemyby Debbie Ford
In many ways, these sad stories have become a national obsession. Yet countless other acts of/i>
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Why Good People Do Bad Things exposes the pervasive and often hidden impulses that influence our everyday decisions. The headlines are full of stories of good people gone astray. They show up on the evening news and are splashed across the weekly tabloids.
In many ways, these sad stories have become a national obsession. Yet countless other acts of self-destruction and sabotage take place in our families, in our communities, in our circle of friends. Despite good intentions, “good people” do very bad things -- often without understanding why.
New York Timesbestselling author Debbie Ford guides us into the heart of the duality that unknowingly operates within each one of us: the force that compels us to live by our values, give and receive love, and be a contributing member of the community; and the force that holds us back, sabotages our efforts, and repeatedly steers us toward bad choices.
Ford begins with an examination of what she calls the Beach-Ball Effect -- the way in which suppressed emotions eventually rise to the surface -- revealing the origins of self-destructive behavior. By describing the never-ending battle between our light and dark sides and then identifying the signposts for potential disaster, Ford helps us understand how we end up damaging the lives we've worked so hard to create. She then breaks new ground by helping us recognize the masks we wear to protect ourselves, including the People Pleaser, the Victim, the Bully, Mister Cool, and the Jokester. Understanding these masks and what they cover up allows us to go beneath the surface, wake up from denial, and become the person we always intended to be.
With Why Good People Do Bad Things Ford has created her most enduring, expansive, and powerful work to date. Providing the tools to unlock the patterns of self-sabotage, Ford ultimately knocks down the façade of the false self and shows us how to heal the split between light and dark and live the authentic life within our reach.
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Why Good People Do Bad Things
How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy
By Debbie Ford HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
The Beach-Ball Effect
Why Good People Do Bad Things is a powerful inquiry into the hidden forces that drive us to commit unbelievable acts of self-sabotage and self-destruction. We've all heard the stories; they show up on the evening news, on the front page of newspapers, and as headlines in the weekly tabloids: the Olympic sports hero who falls from grace after being accused of injecting steroids; the TV evangelist who gets arrested for soliciting prostitutes; the schoolteacher who carries on an affair with one of her students; or the baseball star who gambles on his own games. These are the public demonstrations of good people who have gone astray, and they have become our national obsession.
But countless other acts of self-destruction and unthinkable acts of cruelty take place, unbeknownst to us, in our own backyards: the successful eye surgeon who gambles his kids' college tuition away; the public official who takes a bribe; the PTA mom who is having an affair with her best friend's husband; the hospital administrator who commits insurance fraud; or the financial manager who embezzles money from his clients. These are people whom most of their peers would consider good people, not common criminals, psychopaths, or sociopaths whose histories might predict their unscrupulous behavior. These are people like you and me, people who started out with big dreams fortheir future. But despite their good intentions, these so-called good people did some very bad things, most often without even understanding why.
Our society is rampant with acts of self-destruction that leave most of us perplexed and asking, "Why did he or she do that? Why did I do this? How could this happen?" Self-sabotage is the proverbial hammer over the head that finally wakes us up, demanding that we pay attention. For most of us, it takes something devastating to crack us open, to get us out of our minds and into our hearts. It takes the pain of a broken heart and shattered dreams to push us beyond the limited realities we have created for ourselves.
We are spiritual beings whether we want to admit it or not, and inherent in our DNA is a design to return us homehome to our true essence, our greatest self, our limitless self. One of the ways we unconsciously ensure our return is through pain. Pain is the greatest motivator for change. It is the spiritual crowbar that pries open the door to new realities. Would we look into our deeper selves, dwell in them, grapple with them, inquire into them, and initiate change in our lives if everything was perfect? More than likely we would just continue living day by day in the comfort of our familiar worlds.
Self-sabotage is a catalyst that can change our world in an instant. We can go from arrogant and blind to humble and openin just a matter of seconds. The pain we cause ourselves is a tremendous spiritual gift. When explored and understood for its true purpose, the pain of our own self-sabotage reveals new and uncharted territories that can change the course of our lives.
The Underbelly of the Human Psyche
The underbelly of the human psyche, what is often referred to as our dark side, is the origin of every act of self-sabotage. Birthed out of shame, fear, and denial, it misdirects our good intentions and drives us to unthinkable acts of self-destruction and not-so-unbelievable acts of self-sabotage.
Shame and denial feed our dark side for one simple reason. If we accepted our weaknesses, flaws, and shortcomings as a natural part of our humanity, we would have the ability to ask for help when we are confronted with an impulse that we don't know how to deal with. We would recognize that these dark impulsessuch as the urge to have sex with people other than our spouse, to take money that doesn't belong to us, or to lie in order to better position ourselvesare a natural part of our humanity that needs to be understood and embraced. But because these urges are left unexplored and unexamined, they get wrapped in shame and denial and kept hidden in the dark. And it is there that our shadow self, the unwanted and denied aspects of ourselves, gathers more power until a blowup is inevitable.
Every aspect of ourselves that we've denied, every thought and feeling that we've deemed unacceptable and wrong, eventually makes itself known in our lives. When we are busy building a business, creating a family, or taking care of those we love, when we are too busy to pay attention to our emotions, we have to hide our dark impulses and shame-filled qualities, which leaves us at risk for an external explosion. In a matter of minutes, when we least expect it, a rejected or unwanted aspect of ourselves can pop up and destroy our lives, our reputations, and all of our hard work. This is what I call the Beach-Ball Effect.
Think of the amount of energy it takes to hold an inflated beach ball underwater for an extended period of time. The moment you relax or take your attention away from keeping it submerged, the ball will bounce back up and splash water in your face. The Beach-Ball Effect is at work when you have suppressed something deep within your psyche, stored it in the recesses of your subconscious, and then, just when you think everything is going your way, something happens: You send a slanderous e-mail to the wrong colleague. You get lured into betraying someone you love for a night of meaningless passion. You get behind the wheel of a car after having three drinks and get arrested for drunk driving. You get caught dipping into your family's trust fund. You fly off into a rage in front of your new lover. You make an inappropriate comment that costs you your job. You blow an important deadline right before your big review. You haul off and hit your child in a moment of frustration. . . . In other words, the beach ballyour repressed urges and your unprocessed painpops up and hits you in the face, sabotaging your dreams, robbing you of your dignity, and leaving you drenched in shame.
Excerpted from Why Good People Do Bad Things by Debbie Ford Copyright © 2008 by Debbie Ford. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Debbie Ford is the national bestselling author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, The Secret of the Shadow, Spiritual Divorce, The Right Questions, The Best Year of Your Life, Why Good People Do Bad Things, and The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse, and a coauthor of The Shadow Effect. Ford conducts workshops and trainings around the world supporting lifelong personal, emotional, and spiritual education and transformation. She lives with her son in San Diego, California.
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